Category Archives: Software

Beware of FTP Apps

FTPYesterday I received an email from my hosts saying they had received a report of email spam coming from my site. They said they had removed the offending script and suggested my site had been exploited. Like a good webmaster I logged in and checked my files. Nothing was amiss except a new directory with a random name like rbdfghydhf. I deleted the directory then started checking my server logs to see what requests had been made around the time the directory was created. I found nothing so began the process of deleting old files and scripts, which is something we should do regularly anyway.

So four hours later, after some Battlefield 4, I log back in to find a whole bunch of new directories had been made and again nothing in the logs to indicate how they were created. So I contacted my hosts and asked them to check the ownership of the directories and the files they contained. They eventually got back and told me they had been created via my FTP account from an an IP address in Poland, Given my username and password are not simple things I scanned my computer to make sure it hadn’t been compromised. Two different anti virus programs and no malware found. Then I remembered that about a month or so ago I tested three FTP apps on my Android phone. One didn’t seem to work but the other two worked just fine after some messing with the settings. So by logical deduction I suspect this is how my account details got compromised. I checked the Play Store and only two of the three apps I tested are still listed which is another sign that this was the problem.

The moral of the story, if you need to FTP from your mobile device or anything else that requires your sites login details stick with trusted names or those that have a lot of reviews both good and bad. I was lucky but they could of done some serious damage.

Firefox 10 Aurora Add On Compatibility

So Firefox 8 has been released meaning Firefox 9 is now in beta and Firefox 10 is now on the Aurora channel. Trouble is, even if you are using compatibility reporter from the add ons site, most of your add ons will now be disabled. This is because compatibility reporter only supported up to Firefox 9. Anyway the fix is simple.

  1. Open a new tab
  2. Type about:config in the url bar and press enter
  3. Click the I’ll be careful, I promise! button
  4. Right click anywhere on the list that appears and select New then Boolean.
  5. For the preference name put extensions.checkCompatibility.10.0a and click OK
  6. Now select false and click OK
  7. Now do the same again but this time name it extensions.checkCompatibility.10.0
  8. Again set it to false.

Now close Firefox and when you restart all your extensions should be working again.

Zuma Blitz on IE9

OK I’ve noticed a few people a searching for information about Zuma Blitz on IE9. I did notice this issue myself when I first tried IE9. The main problem is the hardware acceleration that comes turned on by default in IE9 which results in Zuma, and anything else Flash intensive, being really jerky and laggy unless you are on a pretty powerful computer. This is because both Flash and the web browser are using hardware acceleration and competing for your graphic cards processor. This also applies to Firefox 4. Anyway you can try to improve things by disabling the hardware acceleration in either the browser or in Flash.

To disable it in the browser go to Internet options by either clicking the gear cog on the right hand side of IE9s toolbar or go to your control panel. Once open click on the Advanced tab. The very first option is Use software rendering instead of GPU rendering* so tick that. You will then have to restart IE9. Hopefully Zuma Blitz will be a bit more tolerable now.

To disable it in Flash simply go to a web page that has Flash in it and right click on the flash. From the menu that appears select Settings… and then deselect the Enable hardware acceleration option.

So first try disabling one. If that doesn’t work re-enable the one you disabled and disable the other one. If it’s still jerky try disabling them both.

If all else fails you can always just uninstall IE9 and go back to IE8 or try one of the other browsers such as Firefox, Chrome or Opera.

Play MKV on Xbox 360

OK so I downloaded the first two episodes of Pioneer One which is a free to download mini series made for VoDo, which is a free video site. Unfortunately, like a lot of high definition (HD) video, it came in the MKV format which, unfortunately, the Xbox 360 does not support. Now the first thing you need to understand is that the video format is just a container. The actual video and audio inside the container can be exactly the same in a different container. Orange juice is still orange juice whether it’s in a glass or a cup. Anyway what we need to do is take the audio and video out of the MKV container and put it in to a container that the 360 can play such as mp4. I did a search for instructions on how to do this by searching for play MKV on Xbox 360 but the one I found required about 10 different programs. Admittedly the instructions on that page are from 2008. Mine is a lot simpler and requires just a single, portable, program called XMedia Recode. The site is in German but just click Download under where it says XMedia Recode Portable. Extract the contents of the zip file and run XMedia Recode.

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Internet Explorer 9

So Microsoft has finally unleashed Internet Explorer 9 on the world. It comes with a faster JavaScript engine that can actually compete with the likes of Chrome and Firefox 4. It is also the first released browser to have hardware acceleration. Firefox, Chrome and Opera also have browsers with this but they are still either in alpha, beta or release candidate. It also has HTML 5 and CSS 3. Brand new user interface as well that I think will get a lot of complaints from the usual “we don’t like change” people.

Now on to the downsides.

Their video tag will only play .h264 files. Originally the specifications stated that the video tag would use the open source OGG codec but then Apple complained and so any codec could be used. Not that the fact both Apple and Microsoft own parts of the .h264 licences or anything. Now Google has purchased a company that was working on a new codec called WebM and has made it freely available with Firefox already supporting it as well as Chrome. Microsoft say they refuse to support WebM until Google can guarantee there will be no patent claims against WebM in the future. This is typical MS hypocrisy since their own licence for letting you use .h264 clearly states they offer no such guarantee themselves.

No support for the text-shadow CSS despite the fact Internet Explorer has offered text shadow as one of it’s filters since IE5.5.

Flash can be very laggy. My current favourite game, Zuma Blitz, is damn near impossible to play due to it being so jerky. This is possibly down to the hardware acceleration as Firefox 4 also suffers from this.


Still I think for most people who only use IE this will be a major breath of fresh air.

Trillian 5 beta

Cerulean Studios have just made a beta version of Trillian 5 available for the public to download. I have to say that after the ugly mess that was Trillian Astra it’s a relief to see the new clean interface. Because they’ve been doing this for ten years you know that the messenger protocols they use are the latest versions and their code is stable.

They have seriously improved how they handle newfeeds such as Facebook and Twitter now giving them their own tray icons if you wish as well as their own windows. It also has a very small memory footprint and usually uses around 10MB. It’s email handling has also been improved but it still lacks Digsby’s ability to delete emails from Yahoo, Hotmail etc as I only seem able to delete emails sent to my Gmail account.

You can get more information as well as see screenshots and download the beta it’s self from

The Great Google Chrome Con

Google Chrome is now at version 5 despite being only four years old. Version 6 is in beta. Before I began my rant I just need to explain how the versioning of programs usually works. The first number is the major build number should only change when there have been major changes to the program. The smaller numbers are there to indicate smaller changes such as security and bug fixes. Since it’s release Chrome, as far as I can see, has only had two major changes to it and they are the addition of themes and extensions.

Firefox has been around about eight years and is only at version 3.5. Opera has been around over ten years and is only at version 10.50. With both of these browser they have only changed the major build number when they have made major changes to their browser.

So why is Google increasing Chrome’s build number more often that it has birthdays? Well others believe this is Google’s attempt at making the gullible believe that Chrome is a more mature program than it actually is. The less computer savvy are going to look at it and think, “Oh it’s on version 5 so must have been around a long time”. I tend to agree with their opinion as there is no other reason for Google to be doing this.

IE9 Preview

IE9 Preview

IE9 Preview

Microsoft has released a preview version of Internet Explorer 9. It shows it’s CSS 3 support as well as it’s much improved JavaScript engine called Chakra. It also has support for some HTML 5. Certainly a big change from IE8. It is only a basic browser with no navigation menu and you have to use Ctrl + O to open a URL or file. You can read more about it on the MSDN IE blog or download it from here.

Microsoft has made it’s own range of tests that you can run and they can be found at the IE9 test drive site. It’s good to see how your current browser handles these tests as well.

Spyware Block Lists

For years now I have used both SpywareBlaster and SpyBot to immunise my web browsers against malware. They both do this by adding a list of known malware sites to the blocked list of your web browser and, in the case of Spybot, also adding them to the hosts file. They also help to stop tracking cookies which are used to log what type of websites you visited.

Anyway I was updating them both today and I got to thinking, "How often do they check that the sites in their block lists are still active?" At present SpyBot is saying it has immunised me against 130712 sites and SpywareBlaster says 13138 sites. So I decided to test a random selection of 20 sites they have blocked. Out of the 20 all the domains had now expired and pointed to nothing (resulting in a oops message in the browser) or they were now a domain landing page. That’s one of these stupid pages you sometimes end up on when you mistype a web address which has a list of links loosely based upon the domain name.

I know both of these programs are free but would it be to hard for them to write a program that checks their list every so often to remove dead domains? The reason I say this is because Internet Explorers block list is stored in the registry and this can slow down your computers boot up time. Also the more sites are blocked the slower your web browser may become. SO come on programmers. Just write a program that runs through your list once a month and see if they are still active or not.

Another Day, Another Internet Explorer Exploit

When Internet Explorer 8 came out Microsoft said they had seriously improved security and that it was now one of the safest web browsers to use. Apparently they were wrong. According to the Guardian newspaper here in the UK an exploit in Internet Explorer was used in the recent attack on Google’s systems in China.


So why keep using it? There are plenty of excellent alternatives these days. Firefox, Opera, Chrome, Flock and you could even use Apple’s Safari although it uses a stupid amount of memory on Windows.

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